Phweet – Ruthlessly Simplified Disintermediation

When I received this Twitter message earlier this afternoon:

stuarthphweetinvite2007-07-30

clicked on the embedded URL and immediately was listening in on a conversation involving not only Stuart Henshall but also David Beckemeyer of Televolution (producer of PhoneGnome – now known as the PhweetGeek), I found I was in for a most interesting conversation experience. Within minutes we had a multi-party call involving as many as eight participants from India, Italy, Ireland (actually, Pat was calling in while on vacation in Spain) as well as others in the U.S. They had all joined “spontaneously” from a Twitter message (in my case initially seen via Twitter4Skype) as Stuart and David launched an Alpha version of Phweet this afternoon.

First thoughts and comments:

  • phweetlogoThe immediacy – send the URL via Twitter and any of your Twitter Followers can join with three clicks – the URL, the TringMe VoIP Flash Player widget and the “Allow” button within the Flash Player. At that point the call host needs to “accept” your request to join and you’re into the conversation.
  • You monitor the call participants and participate in a chat session via a web page with a URL dedicated to the specific call (www.phweet.com/[four character call code]). When the host ends the session, the URL dies also; however, tweets are the only traces left of the call.

phweetalpha1stcall2007-07-30

  • It’s a mashup of Twitter, TringMe, and SIP-based services all hosted on a Televolution server.
  • While, if you just send out a general Tweet all your Followers can join; you can Direct Message an individual, or individuals, if you want a totally private call.
  • You can join from a browser or a SIP ID; for instance Pat Phelan (of MaxRoam fame) called in from a Nokia N95 via his Truphone SIP ID (Truphone number@truphone.com) but you can also join in from Gizmo 5 and other SIP-based services.
  • It’s Alpha: TringMe would periodically drop the call connection but a web page refresh would bring back the Widget button and you could instantly be in the conversation again.
  • It’s Alpha: when I attempted to host my own call with Stuart as the invitee, we could “see” each other on the related web page but the audio connection did not work.
  • Joining a conversation actually involves a call out from the Televolution server; as a result they are only working with connections that do not involve termination charges. Eventually they would like to have a way to join from, say, a mobile phone while letting another party worry about the back office transactions.
  • Call quality was quite good; David needs to up his mic volume but other parties were very clear. On the other hand there is no echo cancellation capability, so headsets are a requirement unless you have echo cancellation hardware embedded into your mic.
  • This is totally an Internet based service: effectively your Twitter followers are the directory; there is no other form of intermediation, such as a softphone client, involved in setting up, and participating in, the call. It does require you have the Adobe Flash Player installed.
  • It’s Alpha: Stuart and David are still going through the discipline of defining a basic feature set.

Stuart and David are inviting Twitter members to give it a try; they want user feedback before even calling it Beta, to ensure it at least has all the basics of a service that provides reliable connections, total host control (for instance, they need to add the ability for a host to remove a participant) and meets basic call support needs. Overall it looks to be a promising concept and a unique “click-to-call” service that supports ad hoc social networking.

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Tags: Phweet, Stuart Henshall, David Beckemeyer, Twitter, Televolution, TringMe, Pat Phelan, Truphone, Nokia N95

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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